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Full text of "Linguistic Survey Of India Vol Ii Mon Khmer Siamese Chinese Families"

KHAS8I.                                                                         5
Conspicuous in the social institutions of the Khassi race, and in tho physical characteristic®
of the individuals who compose it. While the general typo, both of speech and physical
frame, js undoubtedly Mongolian, the morphological character of the language differs too
much from that of other forms of speech found within the Indian boundaries, to admit of
its being classed with any one of them.
The following are the principal points of difference "between the Khassi family and
the other non-Aryan languages of India :•—
(1)  It possesses a complete system of gender    To every substantive in the dialects
which together form the language is ascribed a masculine or a feminine quality,
irrespective of its representing an object actually having sex; and this distinc-
tion of gender is carried, by means of the determining prefix, through the
adjectives and verbal forms which, together with the substantive, build up the
(2)  As in other non-Aryan languages of India, grammatical relations are denoted
by position, or, more often, by the use of help-words with more or less attenuated
meanings.   But the important point of difference is that in the Khassi dialects
these help-words are invariably prefixes) that is, they stand before the word
they modify.   On the other hand, the Dravidian, Munda, and Tibeto-Burman
forms of speech prefer suffixes, that is, the help-words follow the words they
modify.   The other Mon-Khmer languages follow the same system as the Khassi,
while the Tai family uses both systems.   The possessor is placed after the thing
possessed in the Khassi, the Tai, and the other Mon-Khmer languages, but before
it in the other languages named.   The result of this peculiarity is that the order
of the words in a Khassi sentence is altogether different from that which prevails
in the Tibeto-Burman family, its neighbour on three sides; and, as the order of
words corresponds to the order of ideas, the speakers of Khassi are thus
differentiated in a very important respect.
(3)  The possession of a relative pronoun distinguishes the Khassi dialects  from
most of the non-Aryan languages of India, a- peculiarity which it shares with
the Cambodian and   Anamese languages (as well as with those of the Tai
family), but not with Mon,
VOCABULARY,—The greater part of the words used in Khassi appear to be native
to that tongue, though there may have been borrowings and interchanges with its Tibeto-
Burman neighbours.1 The two test-words, for water andjjfŁ3 and the numerals, which
run through the whole of the Tibeto-Burman family with only dialectic variations, have
no representatives of the same type in Khassi, Many words have been borrowed from Ben-
gali, Hindostam and English, being required to express ideas and instruments of civilization
and culture acquired from outside; but the language has considerable power of abstrac-
tion, and has proved adequate to the expression of very complex relations of thought.
It has received much cultivation during the past half-century, entirely through the
agency of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Mission, settled in the Khasi Hills since 1842S
with its head-quarters first at Cherrapunji, and afterwards at the provincial capital of
1 Mikiv or Aileng, the nearest Tibeto-Burman neighbour of Khassi on the East, lias a fairly laige number of roots identi-
cal with Kbassi; it is not possible at present to say which lias borrowed from the other.